Update: Following this post, I received a clarification concerning the true story behind this slope that you can find [here].

As Mzaar is getting ready to open its slopes to skiers, a friend randomly asked me today if I knew the reason why the “Nabil” slope was called as such. Was it some local champion or was it following a tragic incident? I remember hearing it was called after a local hero but I never bothered to look it up; all we cared about at the time was being able to ski down “Nabil” as it was one of Mzaar’s most challenging slopes.

Nevertheless, I did some digging online and there was a Lebanese ski champion called Nabil Khalil who went on to represent Lebanon at the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo, along with Sotirios Axiotiades, Tony Sukkar and Edward Samen. I even found an 1984 article highlighting the incredible story behind the Lebanese skiers who flew to represent their country while the runway at Beirut airport was being shelled, and who used to run away from snipers in some spots while skiing down the slopes.

None of the skiiers had any hope of winning a medal but they were happy and proud to represent their country. Axiotiades jokingly said in the article: “If all of the others fall, we can get some medals,” then continued: Sarajevo is beautiful for two weeks, but we want to go home, even if it is to a bomb shelter. There’s more important things than sports. You have to survive first.”

In terms of results, Khalil ended up in 39th spot in the Slalom (out of 110 competitors) while Samen ranked 42nd overall. Was it for that reason that the slope was called Nabil? I can’t confirm that yet but they should all have slopes named after them for representing Lebanon in such hard times.